‘I will not be intimidated’
Retired Major General Makoro makes bold declaration after army raids his residence
The Sunday Express crew was not quite prepared for the sight that suddenly came into view as it turned into the road leading to Retired Major-General Sam Makoro’s residence.
The time was about 6:20am and the paper had earlier been informed that a group of soldiers was ransacking the Retired Major’s home, hence the visit to his Ha-Matala Phase II residence on Friday morning.
But just as the news-team left the highway and headed for Makoro’s home, the road was suddenly swarming with heavily-armed soldiers who momentarily blocked the way before parting slowly as the vehicle cautiously made its approach.
It was then that the full import of what was happening suddenly hit home, with the soldiers slowly following behind the vehicle as it made its way up the incline leading to Makoro’s residence.
A loud knock at the gate immediately brought Makoro out of his residence, looking calm and collected as he led our team into his home.
But the continuous ringing of his mobile phone gave away the nerviness of the moment, as well as the stream of friends and relatives coming to see what was going on.
He would not be intimidated, the Retired Major remarked as the soldiers slowly walked past his home on their way to a waiting Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) truck, insisting he is a Mosotho and Lesotho is his home — and that no-one has the right to harass him for no apparent reason.
Narrating the morning’s ordeal, Makoro said he was about to go on his daily morning walk with his wife at around 5am, when he saw the soldiers approaching his home.
“What happens is I go on morning walks with my wife at about 5am, but today, as I was about to go out, I saw a group of soldiers, about 60 of them, approaching my house.
“They started to surround my house, and my family obviously became worried because this was the first time such a thing was happening to us.
“I have good reason to believe that a whole company was deployed for the mission as from the accounts of some of my neighbours, a further 60 were positioned taking cover at different spots within the village”.
A military company, he said, is made up of 120 soldiers.
According to Makoro — who left the army in 2011 when he had risen up the ranks to become the LDF Deputy Commander and is now the Maseru District Administrator (DA) — the soldiers reportedly told him they had come to search for weapons and army uniforms.
“They surrounded my house as if they were attacking a terrorist. Their leader, a second lieutenant, who is a junior officer who should not even have conducted such an exercise, said he was under instruction to search for weapons and army uniforms in my house.
“Although they did not have any legal documents to justify their search and were infringing on my rights, I let them proceed because I have nothing to hide,” he said.
Makoro explained a mission of that nature ought to be conducted in the presence of either civilian or military police officials.
“In the absence of a search warrant, the military police are supposed to be headed by an officer whose rank is not lower than Lieutenant-Colonel as per the requirements of the law, but there was no such procedure followed.”
Makoro said the soldiers told him who had sent them, and when he tried to contact that individual, his phone rang unanswered.
“I then phoned the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Defense to find out what was going on, and later also called the Police Commissioner. I was immediately called back by the Deputy Prime Minister, who expressed surprise at what was happening at my residence.”
Makoro said the soldiers searched his entire house and vehicles parked in his courtyard, and also the rest of the yard.
“Obviously their search turned up nothing and that is why you see them leaving now.”
But Makoro said given his military background, such operations would not intimidate him.
“I am not afraid of such tactics, and neither will I employ bodyguards as some might suggest. But I will be making a formal report to the police about this just for the record and also seek guidance from my lawyer regarding the next course of action to take.
“Personally, I am not intimidated, but this raid has traumatised my family.
“I am not afraid because I am a Christian and have not done anything wrong. This is my country and I have the right to stay here freely and without fear, but then I have a family, and these things cannot be taken lightly.”
Makoro said he had told the soldiers that the only uniform in his possession is that of his political party, the ruling All Basotho Convention (ABC).
“I showed them my ABC regalia, which was sewn military-style. To the untrained eye, and from a distance, it looks like army uniform. But I let them have a look at it.
“I was a military officer for about 30 years so I wouldn’t be so crazy as to go around in military uniform; I surely know better than that.”